Meal planning Is now the time to improve your skills in the kitchen? June 30 2020
Joel Feren Joel leans against kitchen bench next to fresh vegetables Dietitian

Make the most of the current situation and get into the kitchen and gain some new culinary skills. You may surprise yourself with some delicious creations.

Are you lacking confidence in the kitchen? Or maybe you’ve never been taught kitchen skills to start with? You’re certainly not alone. But don’t despair. Now is the perfect time to get into the kitchen and gain some new culinary skills.

Many of us often fail to plan ahead, find it difficult to improvise with what’s in the fridge or pantry and don’t have the know-how to jazz up tired leftovers. Suffice to say, it’s not just MasterChef contestants who struggle with the mystery box challenge.

When you cook meals at home, rather than eating out or ordering take-away, you have more control over the nutritional value of your meal. Adding more veggies and salad to the mix, at the expense of energy dense foods, will increase the nutrients and reduce the overall calorie content of the meal.

So, where do you start?

Have a go

Not everyone has to cook like a Michelin star chef, although it’s worth remembering that every chef was once an amateur too. Perhaps start with some key ingredients such as lean protein, eggs, veggies and whole grains to get the ball rolling. You can get some inspiration for easy, healthy recipes online. Try Jamie Oliver’s quick healthy recipes, or easy recipes from taste.com.au. Think chicken stir-fries, mushroom omelettes, lentil soup or slow-cooked stews. Once you build a foundation you can work on enhancing the flavour. A little pepper, chilli, parsley or a spritz of lemon juice can go a long way to boosting the depth of your creations.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

No one expects you to whip up a MasterChef style dish so there’s no need to jump in head first. Take baby steps in the kitchen. You have permission to create simple dishes using only a few ingredients. Kim McCosker’s successful 4 ingredient cookbooks and Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients cookbook are a case in point. Got some salmon, veggies and rice on hand? With those key ingredients you can create an easy, delicious and nutritious meal in no time at all. Keep some herbs and spices in the pantry as well, to help take your dish to a new level.
And don’t forget to keep your chin up if your first attempt at a meal doesn’t quite work. Gordon Ramsey is not going to chastise you. Plus, we learn the most from our failures rather than our successes in the kitchen. So keep at it!

Make it a team effort

Many hands make light work. Cook with a partner or lockdown buddy. And don’t forget to get the kids involved. Not only will you bond over a new experience, you might just create some culinary magic together. Plus, you might end up with an unintended bonus if they offer to do the dishes and help clean up.

Practice makes perfect

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t set the bar too high in the kitchen. The fun of cooking is mastering a recipe over time. Where’s the joy in getting it perfect after just one attempt?

Don’t forget to have fun

Many people find cooking rewarding and relaxing, and you can have fun too. Don an apron, put on your favourite tunes or listen to a podcast and enjoy the experience. You might just be inspired to create something delicious.

Go on, test your skills and learn some new ones in the process. You may surprise yourself with some delicious creations. Challenge accepted?

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Joel Feren Joel leans against kitchen bench next to fresh vegetables Dietitian Joel Feren is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a background in the biomedical sciences. Joel’s main areas of interest include men’s health, food trends and the link between food and mood.